always more taxes, more spending, and more lost jobs. tonight on "nightline," the trouble with charlie. extraordinary scenes as police respond to a call at new york's plaza hotel to find actor charlie sheen half naked and incoherent, his room damaged, a woman in the bathroom. the consequences so far? zero. how do celebrities get away with behaving so badly? >> park it. bmw yanks 130,000 vehicles today after a "nightline" investigates shows a dysfunction in one of their models. and, the best-seller. his tales of criminal conspiracy and legal daring do have sold hundreds of millions of copies and filled countless screens. so, how does john grisham do it?
we've got the "nightline" interview. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," october 26th, 2010. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and we're going to begin tonight with fame and consequences. in new york, charlie sheen, the actor and bad boy for many years, was arrested, taken into custody at the plaza hotel here in new york after his -- police responded to a disturbance in his room. sheen has had many problems over the years, and yet again, he is in trouble, but this time, the question is, what will be the consequences? andrea canning has our report. >> reporter: it's happened again. charlie sheen, living up to his bad boy image. police sources say they discovered the actor drunk and half naked in his new york city hotel room early this morning.
>> police responded. mr. sheen was taken to the hospital, no arrests were made. no one willing to sign a complaint. >> reporter: according to police officials, sheen had been drinking heavily and was reportedly screaming that he couldn't find his wallet or phone. >> he had a whole situation in that hotel room in the plaza. they found him apparently naked and intoxicated. >> reporter: sheen allegedly trashed the posh skwooet at the renowned plaza hotel, overturning tables and chairs, even breaking a chandelier, causing thousands of dollars in damages. sheen was taken to a hospital where he was reportedly given a psychiatric evaluation. >> charlie went to the hospital because he had two options. either, he went to the hospital or went to jail. >> reporter: denise richard was
staying in the same hotel at the time of the incident. she talked about what happened tonight on "the joy behar show." >> did you go to the hospital with him? >> i do know what happened. i would rather -- >> you do know, you just -- >> i did help him at the hospital. >> you did go to the hospital with him. >> the thing is, my daughters are 5 and 6 years old and they are at an age where they can start to understand. they have no idea what went on. and a lot of our stuff happened when they were much younger, which i'm so grateful for. we're in an amazing place. we've been getting along great for the last year and a half, and, you know, we're doing our best so as far as that situation, i'm trying to to protect the girls. >> reporter: sheen's camp released a statement, saying, what we are able to determine is that charlie had an adverse allergic reaction to some medication and was take on the the hospital. celebrities behaving baldly is
nothing new. lindsay lohan's career, once so promising, is now on life support. mel mel gibson's career is in jeopardy after calls he reportedly made to his ex-girlfriend. >> i'll put you in a [ bleep ] rose garden because i'm capable of it. >> the mel gibson situation, you throw in anti-semitic remarks, you have the situation where people could hear the audio tapes of -- sometimes when you're really there and can witness for yourself, it' a lot harder to swallow. >> reporter: despite sheen's decades long history of problems, he continues to be successful. still, in december 2009, charlie sheen was arrested in aspen after he allegedly threatened his third wife. >> okay, and up said you have a domestic disturbance, okay, tell me what happened. >> my husband had me -- with a knife and i'm scared for my life and he threatened me.
>> reporter: he was sentenced to rehab, probation and anger management. things weren't any better with second wife denise richards. she accused sheen of being addicted to pornography and gambling. years earlier, he attacked a girlfriend and pleaded no contest, getting just two years probation. >> it seems like when you pick your head up, charlie sheen is in the tabloid for some sort of thing involving his ex-wife or a girlfriend or this or that or is it alcohol or what's going on? >> you don't want to talk about your problem? >> reporter: for sheen, life seems to imitate art. >> his first role was in farris bueller's day off. he had a small role as a criminal. maybe that was foreshadowing. and now on "two and a half men" he's played a guy that's a wo n womanizer, he drinks a lot and sort of a guy that's done for come immediatic purposes, but made that's part of the reason why no one seems to get too
outraged at what happens to him. >> reporter: "two and a half men" brings in millions of dollars in advertising revenue. >> wait, wait, wait, there is one thing. >> no, you can't see them. >> good. >> reporter: actor just signed a deal to extend his run as charlie harper for two more seasons, reportedly raking in $2 million an episode. >> charlie sheen has been accused of everything from assault to prostitutes, drugs, gambling, alcohol, divorce, rehab, you might call him just a complete train wreck. at what point do you draw the line? >> well, he is a money maker. i mean, it all about the bottom line to a degree. it's all about how much money is he going to make and how many people are going to show up to watch him? >> reporter: throughout all of sheen's problems, cbs often says one thing. "no comment." >> if no one's pressuring cbs and there's no public outcry to do something about the situation with charlie sheen, then they're not going to do anything.
>> reporter: charlie sheen's publicist says he was released to the hospital today and returned back to l.a., adding, everything else is speculation. for "nightline," i'm andrea canning in new york. >> there will certainly be more to this story in the coming days. thanks to andrea canning for that report. when we come back, a surprise luxury call recall. but not until hundreds of claims were quietly settled out of court, plaintiffs lawyers tell us. i have a drug problem. 10% of the world's medicine is counterfeit. affecting over a billion people a year. on a smarter planet, we're building intelligence into things. so we can follow this medicine from the factory to the distribution center... to the pharmacy... and know it's the real thing. keeping counterfeits off the shelves. in places like the u.s... tanzania... and india. smarter medicine is safer medicine. that's what i'm working on. i'm an ibmer.
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now, this is a story of customers lured by luxury, only to be disappointed and in some cases, deeply disturbed at what they got for their money. for three years, the complaints and legal claims of disgruntled bmw owners piled up. then one frustrated owner stopped our correspondent on the street and today, the german manufacture amonnounced a massi recall. chris cuomo has the "nightline" investigation. >> reporter: bmw's recall tame today as a result of a month long abc news investigation into a potentially dangerous malfunction affecting many of its turbo-charged vehicles. from sprite convertibles to silky sedans. michael noon picked one out as a garage wags gift for his daughter jennifer. >> i loved the color, i loved the model. i thought it was really hip and edgy. >> reporter: what better gift, after all, than the ultimate driving machine?
but now, this 300 horsepower $40,000 turbo-charged dynamo rarely leaves the driveway. >> because you don't have the confidence in the car anymore that it's really safe. >> reporter: that's because not long after getting the car, jennifer says she began experiencing problems that frightened her. >> it was like jittery and shaking and it was scary. the lights were going on in the car. so, i pulled over and i got really nervous on the side of the road. >> reporter: turns out, noon's account is far from unique. >> the car started shaking, backfiring, we had no idea what was going on. it was very, very, very scary. >> reporter: allison actually put us on the trail, after giving me a tip about the problems she experienced with her bmw. >> and then decided that i had to do everything i can to get the cars off the road. >> reporter: acting on allison's tip, we contact ee eed plaintif lawyers across the country, who told us hundreds of lawsuits have been filed.
>> you believe the country is trying to hush people up in these situations? >> i know they are. >> reporter: how? >> i've seen it. they make you sign a gag clause, nondisclosure clause and they won't negotiate that out, no matter what. >> reporter: in an online federal data base but found more owner complaints revealing that since late 2006, bmw and government safety regulators have been aware of hundreds of similar claims. what are the things you would deal with us on the road? >> when you're looking for pickup to get on the highway, you would lose acceleration. >> reporter: bmw says the problem is the fuel pump in the n-54 engine. when the pump fails, the car can suddenly go into a reduced power, or limp mode. though bmw prefers to call it safe mode. >> when that high pressure pump on the engine fails, the vehicle goes into what we call a safe mold, which means that you have power steering, power brakes, but you don't have as much
power, and that can be startling for some people. >> reporter: to date, bmw claims no injuries or deaths have occurred as a result of the problem. but acknowledges the power loss can occur with little or no warning and as some drivers told us, they had no idea what to expect when it happened. >> you think the engine's falling out of the car, basically, is what you feel. >> when this goes into the safe mode, a chain of events happens. first of all, the driver heres a gong. second of all, there's a light that comes on in the dash to say that something has happened with a malfunction in the vehicle. >> reporter: what does the light say? >> the light is a symbol. you don't know what it says unless you've read the owner's manual. >> reporter: to find out for ourselves what bmw dealers might say to customers, we visited two show rooms with a hidden camera. >> i'm in the market for a 335. >> reporter: salesmen told us there was little reason to be concerned about safety. >> if it was that big of an issue, it would have been a
recall. >> what if that problem causes you to have an accident? >> it wouldn't. >> reporter: when government regulators investigated complaints in 2008, bmw insisted the conditions do not pose any risk to motor vehicle safety. adding that despite reduced engine power, we believe that safe vehicle operation is possible. the inquiry was closed with a determination that further investigation would not been an efficient allocation of agency resources. but in the last two years, the complaints have kept coming, including reports of dangerous and unpredictable circumstances. sudden, ram dndom power loss. is bmw trying to minimize what could happen here? >> look, i haven't been in the car when this happened to these people and we have a lot of respect for our customers. but in our experience, in safe mode, you do have power steers and brakes to continue driving. >> reporter: since discovering
the problem, bmw has sent out alerts to its dealers about the pump failures and sent a letter to customers extending the warranty on the fuel pump and alerting them they may experience unspecified reduced engine performance. but customers were not told that bmw had been unable to find a solution, despite several attempts to redesign the fuel pump. >> kept bringing the car in. i got out of the dealership, didn't make it down the street, the shaking, the rocking, turned around, brought it right back in. >> reporter: ultimately, what bothers many owners is that bmw didn't offer them what they believe would have been the safest option. a chance to bring in their cars before they experienced a problem. you guys should be doing better than that, shouldn't you? >> we don't want to alarm people, i have to drop everything, i have to bring the car in when it's inconvenient to me. >> reporter: who doesn't want to know information like this? who wouldn't want to know?
you got lots of families driving these cars, people wanted to know this, don't you think? >> well, we did take action to notify people. we probably can be better in the future with our communication. >> reporter: finally today, one week after abc news first contacted the company, the german automaker initiated a massive recall of 130,000 vehicles. taking the step many of its customers have been demanding for years. >> we understand that people are feeling uncomfortable with the situation and people want to know more, so, we're taking action as quickly as possible. >> reporter: the company even acknowledged that our investigation expedited their decision. little bit of that abc urgency? getting calls from the pest at the news place? that mean anything? >> that caused us to decide to take action sooner rather than later. >> reporter: for "nightline," this is chris cuomo in new york. >> good work, and thanks to our
tipster and thanks to chris coe more for that report. up next, john grisham has sold hundreds of millions of books and tonight he talks with us about story telling and the difference between right and wrong in his books. if you fight to sleep in the middle of the night, why go one more round ? you don't need a rematch, but a rethink. with lunesta. lunesta is thought to interact with gaba receptors associated with sleep. lunesta helps you get the restful sleep you need. lunesta has some risk of dependency. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep without remembering it the next day have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations, or confusion. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. alcohol may increase these risks. allergic reactions such as tongue or throat swelling occur rarely and may be fatal. side effects may include unpleasant taste,
i'm among 30,000 employees who used to work for hp. i was supposed to retire there. carly fiorina changed all that. fiorina laid off 30,000 people and she shipped our jobs to china and india. i had to pack my bags and i was out the door that night. we even had to train our replacements. she didn't need 5 corporate jets. one hundred million for herself. fiorina never cared about our jobs. not then and not now. i'm barbara boxer and i approve this message.
our state is in a real mess. and i'm not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don't go anywhere. we have to make some tough decisions. we have to live within our means. we have got to take the power from the state capitol and move it down to the local level, closer to the people. and no new taxes, without voter approval. we have got to pull together not as republicans or as democrats but as californians first. at this stage in my life, i'm prepared to do exactly that. >> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> how are certain story tellers able to take a single human theme, crime and punishment, for example, and find unlimited and ingenius ways of approaching it? new chashgts, new plot twists, so that all yenlss are constantly surprised and gratified?
no one knows better than john grisham, who i spoke to recently in a "nightline" interview. they're on the shelves of thousands of bookstores all around the world, row after row of john grisham novels, and you know the stories. they're great stories. a young lawyer joins a law firm doing some very shady business in "the firm." >> are you saying my life -- >> i'm saying that your life as you know it is over. >> reporter: a father takes revenge for his daughter and faces justice in "a time to kill." >> objection, your honor. >> do you think they deserved to tie? answer the question. >> yes, they deserve to die, and i hope they burn in hell. >> reporter: a rookie lawyer takes on the insurance industry on behalf of a dying boy in "the rainmaker." >> i'm just wondering, do you even remember when you first sold out? >> reporter: and on and on, "the client" and "the pelican brief" and so many more best selling novels. john grisham is a born story
teller. how do you know when you get a good story? >> sometimes it hits you like a brick. >> reporter: it's been raining bricks on john grisham for almost 20 years now. 25 books, 250 million copies sold, translated into 39 languages around the world. >> i'm always looking for a story about a trial or litigation or law firm or something, you know, it's in the newspaper today, and i'll take that story and, you know, kind of churn it through a hyper active imagination and sometimes the story works, sometimes it doesn't. >> reporter: he's got a new one out today, "the confession," another great story. how does he do it? well, it shouldn't come as any surprise. he works at it. really hard. >> it's more -- old fashioned outlining. i say, okay, what's going to happen in chapter one? write a paragraph, nothing
fancy, a photograph. when i get to chapter 40, it's supposed to be over. >> reporter: it's a business, being john grisham. we met him in his office in charlottesville, virginia. what is it about the store rims you tell, the way you tell them, that is connected with so many millions of people around the world? >> we have an insatiable appetite for lawyers and the law field. when you write a story that people will stay up all night reading or call in sick for work or skip work or miss school, when you get a reader that hooked into a book, and that's my goal every time. that's my absolute goal every time is to make you start that book and do not put it down until you're finished. >> reporter: in "the confession," grisham has written another cliff hanger. what's the first printing of this one? >> it is always a moving target.
i don't know the exact number. i would guess it's around 1.5. >> reporter: that's million, 1.5 million. this one is about a wrongful conviction, an innocent man on death row but with a twist. >> i've been fascinated for many years with these cases, think about it. police arrest the wrong guy, the prosecutor prosecutes the wrong guy, the jury convicts the wrong guy and the judge sentences the wrong guy and he goes off to death row. where is the real killer? >> reporter: but then, in a classic grisham development, the real killer has a change of heart and confesses. >> and he wants to stop the excuse, so, you get into this really, you know, minute by minute countdown as he is trying to stop the execution. can you stop one? two days to go, one day to go, 12 hours, can you stop an execution? that's all i'm going to say. >> reporter: that sounds like a great movie. >> it does. it does.
>> reporter: is it going to be one? >> well, we're talking. >> reporter: in recent years, grisham has become an activist on behalf of innocent people found guilty of crimes they did not commit. crisscrossing the country raising money and giving speeches. >> we have thousands of innocent people in prison in this country right now. it's -- you know, it's -- that's the fact. >> reporter: there's a strong streak of old fashioned morality in his stories. good is good. evil is evil. >> when you grow up the way i grew up, in a very strict southern baptist household, where morality was black and white, good versus evil, you have a real sense of what's right and what's wrong. i don't want to praeceach. in popular fiction, you can stay on the soap box for a little bit, but not long. >> reporter: something else old fashioned in grisham's novels -- >> the books are relatively clean. >> reporter: they're rated pg. you don't write steamy sex
scenes. >> my wife reads everything the first time through. i wrote a sex scene. i knew when she was going to be reading it and i was sort of listening downstairs and she howled with laughter, okay? she said, men cannot write sex scenes. >> reporter: critics have been slamming him for year, not profound enough, they say. but he doesn't mind. >> i'm not trying to write great it wiliteratur literature. what i try to write is a popular fiction that's hopefully a high quality, a popular fiction. >> an incredible story teller. "the confession "out today. when we come back, bill clinton's take on the election, but first, here's jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next. jimmy? >> jimmy: tonight, john stay mouse, tonight's "dancing with the stars" shockee, audrina patridge, and music from donna
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